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The 4-Hour Work Week Book Summary in Less Than Five Minutes

This article is a book summary of The 4-hour work week, a masterpiece written by Tim Ferris.

This afternoon I had to explain big data terminology to a manager.

It was an unscheduled call, where someone without any work experience questioned my technical abilities — presumably because they wanted to seem relevant.

Dealing with bureaucrats is frustrating. It curtails productivity and limits independence. At times like these, I dream about quitting the rat race and go start my own venture.

And I’m not the only one.

Did you know that just the first three months of 2022 saw over 1 million new businesses registered? What’s more shocking is that these statistics are from the US alone.

But quitting your job is daunting. You’re essentially trading stability for volatility. The current state of the economy only exacerbates this problem.

You need a guide. Someone with a proven track record to lead the way in these uncertain times.

For me, inspiration came with Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek.

Summary of “The 4 Hours Work Week”

Tim Ferriss started out as a salesman at a data storage company. It was a typical late-nineties corporate job, and it left him frustrated. This disillusionment led him to build his own internet-based business.

It wasn’t long before Ferriss’ employer found out about his side business, and fired him.

Ferriss then burned the midnight oil to make his venture succeed.

Once he’d stabilized his cashflows, Ferriss began travelling the world.

With this quest, the author began developing a formal work ethic. Over the years, he has refined this technique. Ferriss abbreviates his action-plan as the DEAL philosophy —

  • Definition
  • Elimination
  • Automation
  • Liberation

The DEAL principles are designed to set you free: you won’t need to defer happiness till a later when you implement this.

Let’s see how.

Define Your Own Reality

The first step to taking control of your life is learning to be comfortable in your own skin. You define your own reality.

If you want to accumulate material comforts, you should focus on maximizing your cashflows.

For someone that wants to live a simple life in the woods, it makes sense to find a fully remote job.

The crux of the matter is this: you don’t have to live by society’s archetypes to be successful. In fact, most popular beliefs turned out to be false.

Consider two examples:

  • Corporates like to push the “we are family” trope. If you dig deeper, you’ll find that it’s actually designed to keep employees dependent on them.
  • The “American Dream” of a stable job, a nice car and a happy family has failed. It’s unemployment, domestic abuse and unhappiness that have flourished in our times.

All of this shows that —

Everything popular is wrong

If you want to be happy, make up your own definition of happiness. Set goals that make sense to you. And strive to realize your own dreams.

Eliminate the Unessential

The traditional approach to evaluating results is to measure the volume of work. Ferriss alleges that this is how we get offices full of burnt-out executives mindlessly ticking off tasks on a checklist.

The conventional method values efficiency over effectiveness.

Being merely efficient means that one can complete tasks in the shortest time possible. In order to achieve true freedom, one has to go beyond this.

Whatever you do should bring you closer to your goals. This is what it means to be effective.

Leverage the 80–20 rule

Ferriss invokes the famous 80–20 rule here. Your goal should to achieve 80% better results with 20% efforts.

For this to happen, you have to eliminate the clutter and the noise from your workflow.

As an entrepreneur, you can follow some practicable rules of thumb such as —

  • Not all your projects will be equally profitable. You want to figure out top most productive clients, and do more business with them. Remember, you don’t need 100 projects that net you 100 USD each. With just 10 customers that yield 10000 USD in revenue, your earnings will 10X.
  • Use AI tools to do most of your groundwork. Human technology has progressed far enough. It’s time we take advantage of it. For example, I’m using the Midjourney AI to create concept art for my e-book.

Recommended read: How to Become a Millionaire in 5 Years or Less

Automate the Mundane

As an entrepreneur, you will have to do mundane tasks throughout your day. Scheduling meetings, replying to customer queries, and calculating taxes are just a few banalities we all endure.

Busywork like this is not complicated.

Nonetheless, it takes time and occupies valuable brainpower. If you can outsource these tasks, you’ll free up a lot of time. Time that you can then dedicate to creative processes.

Again, technology brings a solution to your fingertips.

Today you can recruit Virtual Assistants (VAs) online.

These are all highly skilled professionals from India, Pakistan and similar areas looking to make extra cash. Because of currency conversion rates, you’d only need to pay them 4–5 USD per hour.

This is an extremely attractive avenue for you to automate most of your work at almost half the federal minimum wage.

And the best part about this is that you’re make someone else very. It’s a win-win situation all the way.

Even employees can take advantage of this.

Platforms like Turing and Crossover connect you to adept professionals from third-world countries. You can then delegate low-end tasks like:

  • compiling low-end code,
  • categorizing emails, and
  • managing your calendar

Just be careful that you don’t expose sensitive data. And of course, you’ll have to be smart in deflecting your boss’s curiosity. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll free up a lot of time to pursue your dreams.


Modern humans evolved from hunter-gatherers. Our earliest ancestors would roam the vast savannah for weeks in search of food.

Civilization grew over the subsequent millennia. And our species began settling down.

However, that wanderer spirit remains unchanged. And this is the core reason behind the prevalent unhappiness in our society.

Sure, we have a vastly improved quality of life today. But since most of us are stuck in a cubicle all day, we don’t get to enjoy the said quality.

The ultimate goal of the DEAL philosophy is to redress this injustice we place on ourselves.

Your liberation begins once you have mastered the first three steps.

You will be free to use your time as you choose — be it for travel, for gaming, for dating or whatever makes sense to you. And you’ll be much happier for it.

Recommended read: How to Start a Blog That Makes $2,391/Month

The 4-Hour Work Week Summary: Conclusion

The 4-hour work week contains some of the tallest claims I’ve ever seen in published work

From bending rules to outright cheating, Ferriss is relentless in quest for attaining independence. There are cases where he seems completely infantile: in chapter 3 he advises having your VAs make pranks calls.

Regardless, TFHW is an interesting read.

The DEAL philosophy really resonated with me. I found its salient features useful and actionable. I fact, I’ve been subconsciously implementing some of these tips myself.

To reiterate, DEAL asks you to:

  • Define your own reality,
  • Eliminate friction and inertia from your workflow,
  • Automate as much as possible, and
  • Liberate yourself to live life as you choose

I hope this 4-hour work week summary will be useful for you.

Feel free to leave a comment about your favorite tip.

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